The NTT IndyCar Series has started to receive responses from kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) vendors who could be chosen to supply the units in 2022. IndyCar’s engineering team alerted the industry to its need regarding requests for proposals (RFPs) and, according to series president Jay Frye, the initial concepts being floated to outfit cars with an approximate 50hp punch of electric boost have been encouraging.
“We’ve had 10 companies come back to us with RFPs, and their ideas of how we’d go hybrid in ’22 have been great to receive,” he told RACER. “We’re just now starting to get some of them in, and on their side, they’ve been very enthusiastic.
“The Indy 500 is a part of this hybridization, which for them, they realize, and have said to us, is an important opportunity for their companies. That’s our flagship event. It’s a different opportunity for them to showcase their technology with us at Indianapolis and everywhere else we go. The response exceeded our expectations.”
RACER has learned IndyCar’s approach to the RFP process has been decidedly unique. Rather than approach the topic with a long list of rigid criteria for KERS vendors to meet, Frye’s team has given some basic guidelines of needing to make something in the region of 50hp, and to offer energy harvesting and deployment on ovals, and beyond those items, companies have been mostly free to submit whatever they feel would be the best fit. No restrictions on the style of KERS system — battery-based, super capacitor, flywheel, or otherwise — have been mandated.
“We’ve had American companies, European companies; it’s been a multinational response,” Frye added. “Some came out of the blue, which has been good. We’ve learned about some new vendors when we asked for RFPs, and some have been from companies we’d expect to weigh in.
“We’re probably going to see some solutions we hadn’t even thought of, and we haven’t painted them into a corner on what we want. They know our cars, the space they have to work inside of, and are responding with what they consider to be the best ideas. That’s exciting for IndyCar.”
IndyCar plans to select a vendor for its KERS unit by the end of the year, then spend 2020 developing the prototype and bench testing it before getting it into a Dallara DW12 test mule for 2021, when track testing and finalization of the system will commence.